Carrying the highweight of 134 pounds proved no problem for Stallwalkin' Dude, who rallied from last of seven to score a clear victory in the $200,000 Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) Nov. 23 at Aqueduct Racetrack.
A year ago Stallwalkin' Dude finished second to Heaven's Runway in the Fall Highweight but the 7-year-old would not be denied this year. Head of Plain Partners and David Jacobson's Stallwalkin' Dude overtook Ready for Rye in the stretch and fended off Threefiveindia's challenge to win the 104th edition of the handicap, earning the second graded stakes score of his career.
The veteran Stallwalkin' Dude, who made his 59th career start, stayed off Green Gratto's early fractions of a quarter-mile in :22.21 with the half-mile going in :45.84. Out of the turn, favored Stallwalkin' Dude rallied under a hand-ride by jockey Joel Rosario, overtaking Ready for Rye from the outside and completing six furlongs in 1:11.11 on the main track, winning by 1 3/4 lengths.
"It shaped up perfect," said Jacobson, who owns and trains Stallwalkin' Dude and won the Fall Highweight for the second time after saddling Salutos Amigos in 2014. "He came from off the pace; had a little bit of trouble. There was nowhere to go. It's the problem you have with a horse like Stallwalkin' Dude and they tried to block him and make it hard for him, but he overcame it. And he got through and he won the race.
"He is never too far back. He has so much in the stretch it doesn't matter where he is. I am never worried. A while ago I used to get worried, but I am over it."
Stallwalkin' Dude finished in the money for the fourth time in his past five starts and won for the 20th time overall. The even-money favorite paid $4.20 on a $2 win wager, upping his career bankroll to $1,688,852.
"He broke really well and I just left him where he was happy and he was happy back there," Rosario said. "It looked like they got away a little from me, but that's kind of his style. He looks like he wants to be relaxed and then make a run."
Stallwalkin' Dude earned the fourth grade 1 placing of his career three starts ago and in the Fall Highweight he built on an impressive second-place effort in the grade 3 Bold Ruler last out Oct. 29.
"As far as I am concerned, he is as good, if not better than he has ever been," Jacobson said. "His last three races were some of his premier performances. Obviously, today he won, so it's more exciting, even though the last two races were excellent."